Leo Michelson

Leo Michelson was born in Riga, Latvia in 1887 and died in New York, New York in 1978. Michelson was a Russian-American artist considered part of the École de Paris, although his works span many periods and styles.


Michelson first attended the Imperial Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia and then the University of Tartu in Tartu, Estonia.

The Russian Revolution of 1918 forced Michelson to leave Russia for Munich, Germany where he participated in the beginnings of German Expressionism. By 1920 Michelson was living in Paris and had established an international reputation for his paintings, prints, and sculptures. As a prominent member of the Paris School his works were shown in major exhibits throughout Western Europe, the Soviet Union, and the United States. After the fall of Paris to Nazi Germany in 1939, Michelson came to New York City.

Michelson is described as an "eternal emigrant, eternal student" because he was always studying and experimenting with new styles. Michelson actually carried crayons with him so he could sketch where ever he was. His friend Marc Chagall said that he was the best colorist he had ever seen. Art historians have compared Michelson to both Chagall and Picasso, but it was Titian who Michelson said was his inspiration. Michelson painted over 1,000 paintings most of which are in the Michelson Museum of Art in Marshall, Texas.